A Solid Start to 2009
Every year there's an artist or two that seizes the opportunity for uncontested press coverage (and early "could this be the album of the year?" buzz) by releasing records in January, a traditionally slow time for the music industry. Last year was a bust (all we got was Cat Power's redundant Jukebox album), but this year we've got two early winners: The Animal Collective's divisive but striking Merriweather Post Pavilion, and better yet, Antony and the Johnson's beautiful The Crying Light. The latter is a near-perfect record, recommended even for those who weren't able to crack Antony's last record. This one casts the same spell, but is warmer—less oppressively sad.Â
There are more great records on the horizon, too. In February Morrissey will release a solo album that's been fairly hyped as one of his strongest. Years of Refusal is, at the very least, the most rocking album he's put out in a decade, and home to some of his best solo songs—if nothing else, a fine continuation of Morrissey's 2004 comeback.
The bigger story, though, could be the latest from fallen it-band ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. The Century of Self is a meaty, highlight-laden record that consciously addresses all the criticisms leveled at the band in recent years: Less grandiose mish-mash, more crashing bad-assery. It's an awesome disc, and it could help them reclaim some of their Source Tags & Codes-era buzz.